Hay fever: An expert nutritionist reveals seven foods that may subside symptoms

Hay fever, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis, affects up to 30 percent of adults in the UK. Nutritionist Hannah Braye reveals seven foods to help combat the symptoms.

Symptoms of hay fever can make the warmer weather harder to enjoy.

It can include itchy, red and watery eyes, as well as an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.

And this may be accompanied by sneezing, coughing, a blocked nose and headaches – making daily exercise more of a chore than a pleasure.


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But nutritionist Hannah Braye has seven foods that may help to reduce inflammation – keeping pesky symptoms at bay.

Quercetin-rich foods

“The flavonol quercetin may be particularly beneficial for hay fever sufferers due to its anti-allergic activity,” Braye begins.

“The main food sources of quercetin are vegetables such as onions, garlic, watercress and broccoli. And fruits such as berries and grapes.”


Braye says: “The polyphenols apples contain have been shown – in studies – to help reduce sneezing in those allergic to pollen.”

Foods rich in vitamin C

“A powerful antioxidant,” Braye explains, “make sure you fill your shopping basket full of vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables.”

“This would be broccoli, peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi, strawberries and citrus fruit.”

Fermented foods

“Hay fever is caused by an overreaction of the immune system,” Braye clarifies.

“Around 70 percent of our immune cells reside in the lining of the digestive tract, and are supported and influenced by a diverse range of gut bacteria.

“Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, live yoghurt, miso and kombucha contain live bacteria.”

A great addition to any diet, they “support the gut flora” – and so does “a live bacteria supplement”.

Byre advises to incorporate “Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula” into your diet.

“It contains 14 different strains to keep levels topped up.”


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Ginger and turmeric

“Ginger and turmeric both have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties,” Braye continues.

“Studies have shown that they inhibit and stabilise mast cells, which are the cells responsible for producing the pro-inflammatory compound histamine.

“Histamine causes the symptoms of hay fever. Use these spices in cooking, as much as possible.”

Omega 3 essential fatty acids

Potent in anti-inflammatory properties, “the best source is from oily fish” reveals Braye.

“This includes salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. And aim to eat two to three portions a week.

“Vegetarian sources include flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp – although the conversion rate into the active anti-inflammatory form of omega 3 from these sources is unfortunately low.”

Bone broth/stock

“Hay fever has long been associated with increased intestinal permeability – in other words, a leaky gut,” says Braye.

“Bone broth, ideally made using the bones and cartilage from organic grass-fed animals, is believed to help support the health of the gut lining by providing a number of nutrients such as collagen, glycine, gelatine and glutamine.”

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